Help your hair grow to great lengths with our pick of the best shampoos for faster, stronger hair growth
Are you growing out a lockdown haircut, or do you simply aspire to Rapunzel-like lengths? If your natural hair growth is on the sluggish side and you’d like to give nature a helping hand, then a shampoo specially designed to encourage hair growth can help.
All shampoos will clean the lengths of the hair; a shampoo designed for hair growth will additionally cleanse the scalp to allow hair to grow as freely as possible. Many alsop contain ingredients such as caffeine that stimulate your hair follicles to encourage faster growth; and hair-growth products also help to ensure the hair that grows remains strong and healthy, staying on your head for longer without thinning or breaking.
Ready to begin your hair-growth journey? Read on for more advice on choosing the right products for you, and skip down the page to discover which shampoos we recommend for making a real difference to thin, lifeless and sluggish hair.
How to choose the best hair growth shampoo for you
What causes slower hair growth?
The speed at which your hair grows is in part a function of the speed at which new hair cells are produced in the hair follicles during the anagen (active growth) phase of the hair’s natural growth cycle. Healthy hair typically grows at around half an inch per month, or six inches per year, and this phase lasts between 3-5 years for most people.
Products designed to boost hair growth contain ingredients such as caffeine or plant oils to stimulate circulation in the scalp and promote growth at the cellular level during the active growth phase. A product designed to cleanse the scalp of build-up and allow the hair to grow freely will also help boost growth at the roots.
Once the hair has grown from the follicle, the length it reaches over a growth cycle can be affected by the condition of the hair; dry and damaged hair is more prone to breakage at the ends, reducing its overall length. Shampoos containing ingredients that improve moisture and strength, such as keratin, wheat protein or biotin (vitamin B7) will help keep hair in good condition, allowing it to grow to its maximum length. Over time, the right shampoo will help new hair to grow in faster, thicker and stronger.
What ingredients should I look for in a hair growth shampoo?
Different shampoos target hair growth in different ways. The most powerful shampoo ingredients for boosting hair growth contain ingredients that block the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone, a male hormone produced in both men and women), which can inhibit hair growth by reducing blood supply to the follicles. DHT-blockers such as the chemical ketoconazole, or the herbal ingredients saw palmetto and pumpkin seed oil, work by reducing the levels of dihydrotestosterone in the body. In turn, this improves blood circulation to the scalp and helps hair to grow at a faster rate. DHT-blocking products aren’t recommended for pregnant women.
Other ingredients that stimulate blood flow to the scalp (but do not contain DHT blockers) include caffeine, rosemary oil and lavender oil. These improve circulation, driving nutrients to the hair follicles and promoting healthy hair development.
Removing sebum, skin flakes and product build-up from the scalp is important, too, since unblocking follicles allows new hair to grow through without obstruction. Scalp cleansing ingredients such as bamboo powder or tea tree oil can fight scalp irritants (including microscopic fungi) that may interfere with healthy hair growth.
Antioxidants such as vitamin E and ginseng help to rebuild weakened hair and reduce damage. You’ll also find strengthening ingredients such as keratin, biotin and wheat protein that can help prevent the hair snapping at the ends so that it attains its maximum possible length.
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What else can I do to promote hair growth?
The hair that grows in the follicles will be as healthy as the body it grows within. As such, everything you can do to ensure a healthy diet will benefit hair growth at the cellular level. B vitamins are particularly associated with hair growth, but a balanced diet containing antioxidant vitamins A, C and E and minerals such as iron and zinc will ensure hair grows strong and nourished.
A gentle regular head massage can help to boost circulation and bring those healthy nutrients to the scalp. Use the fingertips to rub in circles with a light pressure for around five minutes; this will bring the blood to the scalp area and help loosen any build-up or detritus that may be blocking hair growth. You can massage with your favourite essential oil before a shower, or just using the fingertips alone.
Chemical and heat treatments can cause breakage at the ends, reducing the overall length of the hair. If you’re growing your hair, keep heat styling to a minimum and always use the lowest heat setting possible. Physical damage can also weaken hair, so brush carefully when styling to avoid accidental breakage, and remember that the hair is at its weakest when wet so take special care when detangling hair after washing.
Dermatologists advise avoiding shampoo containing sulphates, parabens and synthetic fragrances, which can irritate the scalp and dry the hair, leaving it more prone to breakage. With that in mind, all the shampoos in our recommended list are sulphate- and paraben-free.
How we test shampoo for hair growth
At Expert Reviews, we know that the best way to test a product is to use it ourselves. We test all the shampoos we review by putting each formula through its paces on our own Type 3 hair and, where possible, we also test on a second hair type.
We first note the active ingredients in the shampoo, and their benefits. Are they designed to stimulate growth by improving blood circulation to the scalp or reduce breakage and maintain hair length by improving strength and hydration – or both? Following the directions of use, we consider the feel of the hair immediately after application and after we’ve allowed it to dry naturally, assessing the cleanliness of the hair and scalp. As well as taking note of the package design (including ease of product delivery) and how much product is required for one wash, we assess how both the hair and scalp feel after washing and the following day. We note any additional benefits with repeated use, such as improved hair strength or condition over time, and perceived effects on growth rate or reduced breakage. Finally, we review the scent and overall pleasantness of each formula.
READ NEXT: Our pick of the best dry shampoos
The best hair growth shampoo you can buy now
1. Waterman’s Grow Me Shampoo: Best all-round shampoo for hair growth
Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon
Waterman’s Grow Me shampoo contains natural DHT blockers plus a blend of renowned hair growth boosters including caffeine and rosemary to stimulate the scalp, plus biotin and argan oil to strengthen the hair. This formula has a very good success rate, judging by the hundreds of long-term users who have taken to Amazon to sing Grow Me’s praises. Watermans also publishes its own research demonstrating the effectiveness of the shampoo.
Grow Me is a lovely shampoo to use, whether or not you’re using it with hair growth the aim; it leaves locks feeling super-soft and smelling gorgeous with a mild minty scent. Suitable for all hair types, the shampoo contains no parabens or sulphates, so it’s kind to skin as well.
Key specs – Size: 250ml; DHT blocking: Yes
2. Aveda Invati Advanced Exfoliating Shampoo: The best scalp cleansing hair growth shampoo
Price: £27 | Buy now from Feel Unique
Build-up from sebum, skin flakes and styling products can leave the scalp congested, inhibiting hair growth by clogging hair follicles. Aveda’s cleansing shampoo contains soothing ginseng, invigorating turmeric, and skin-saver salicylic acid to remove this build-up and free up the scalp. As well as being a brilliant exfoliating agent for clearing pores and preventing spots, salicylic acid is also a whizz at removing build-up and de-clogging hair follicles to boost hair growth.
The shampoo doesn’t lather as well as others on our list, which is something to be aware of when using. Nevertheless, users report great results, including thicker hair following hair loss, and soothing of uncomfortable dermatitis, as well as improved hair growth.
Key specs – Size: 200ml; DHT blocking: No
3. Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo: The best hair growth shampoo for damaged hair
Price: £26 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
If your hair is growing at the roots but breaking off at the ends – perhaps due to damage from chemicals and colourants – then this super-silky shampoo from hair repair specialist Olaplex is the best form of TLC you can give it.
This patented formula is about as close as you can get to a miracle repair for very damaged hair. It repairs broken protein bonds in your hair’s strands, strengthening existing hair from the inside out; and by ensuring all new growth is nourished and protected against breakage, it then boosts future hair growth and strength. Users report it makes hair feel much more manageable and produces a wonderful salon-quality glossy finish.
Olaplex’s shampoo is one of the more pricey bottles on our list, but it really is an effective treatment for damaged hair – and a tiny amount goes a long way.
Key specs – Size: 250ml; DHT blocking: No
4. Noughty Get Set Grow: The best value hair growth shampoo
Price: £8 | Buy now from Feel Unique
Vegan brand Noughty recently launched its Get Set Grow range designed to promote hair growth by improving scalp health. The formula contains robusta coffee to stimulate circulation and pea sprouts to boost growth and strengthen the hair, together with the scalp cleanser piroctone olamine, and hydrating hyaluronic acid to moisturise fragile hair and leave it supple and damage-resistant. The shampoo has a pleasant, fresh scent and leaves hair soft and swishy from first use. Over time, the formula promotes growth from the roots and reduces breakage at the ends.
Like all Noughty products, the shampoo is paraben- and sulphate-free, and comes in sustainable packaging. The Get Set Grow range also includes a thickening conditioner and growth-boosting tonic to complete your hair-care regimen.
Key specs – Size: 250ml; DHT blocking: No
5. Eclat Hair Growth Shampoo: The best hair growth shampoo for silky hair
Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon
Many hair growth shampoos boast of their high caffeine content, but Eclat insists that more caffeine doesn’t mean more hair. “Below 0.001% is ineffective, and above 0.005% can actually accelerate hair loss through overstimulation,” it says. So for its wildly popular Hair Growth Shampoo, Eclat keeps its caffeine content to an optimum level to dilate follicle blood vessels and inhibit hormonal hair loss.
The formula also contains argan oil to deep-clean and clarify, and keratin proteins to leave hair feeling silky. So it’s a great shampoo for all hair types, including naturally thick hair, but many long-term users have found it really does boost growth.
And at just over a tenner for a 200ml bottle, this vegan shampoo (also free of parabens and sulphates) also offers very good value.
Key specs – Size: 200ml; DHT blocking: No
6. Regrowz Thickening Shampoo: The best hair growth shampoo for itchy scalps
Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon
This lovely creamy shampoo contains a whopping 34 herbs, fruit, flower and plant extracts, including natural DHT-blocking saw palmetto extract, scalp stimulating rosemary oil, strengthening biotin and soothing beeswax, coconut and shea butter. Regrowz moisturises the hair shaft to improve texture and prevent further damage, and nourishes the scalp to boost hair growth. The result is a powerful recipe that calms irritated scalps, nourishes the hair, andeaves hair feeling soft and looking fuller and more glossy.
Suitable for all hair types including brittle, bleached and colour-treated hair, Regrowz thickening shampoo has a nice soft lather and pleasant herbal scent. A very good product for the price.
Key specs – Size: 225ml; DHT blocking: Yes
7. Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Strength Shampoo: The best hair growth shampoo for strengthening the roots
Price: £16 | Buy now from Amazon
This vitamin-rich formula from Scandinavian Biolabs contains natural extracts of aloe, turmeric, eucalyptus and amaranthus, together with growth-boosting vitamin B3 to stimulate and strengthen the roots of the hair. The formula is free from sulphates and parabens, which can dry the hair, and it’s 100% vegan.
The shampoo has a clean, eucalyptus fragrance and creates a pleasant tingling sensation on the scalp when lathered. The version linked to here is designed to address hair loss for women by cleansing the scalp, stimulating the follicles and strengthening the hair to reduce breakage; a separate version for men also retails at £16
Key specs – Size: 250ml; DHT blocking: No